A FAMILY Trust linked to the country’s respected eye surgeon Solomon Guramatunhu has amassed a diversified portfolio of investments on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), which has had its worst performance in recent years.
Popular for his extraordinary work in cataract surgery and rarely talked about in business circles, Guramatunhu, through his family trust, has bought into counters spanning mining, banking, construction, tourism and manufacturing sectors.
An analysis of shareholding profiles of ZSE’s counters revealed that his Guramatunhu Family Trust has in the past three years invested in nearly 20 of the bourse’s 65 counters.
The Trust has pounced on stocks in counters that include African Sun Limited (ASL), Barclays, CFI Holdings, General Beltings, Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Lafarge Zimbabwe, Masimba Holdings, Nampak, NicozDiamond, NMB Holdings Limited, Rainbow Tourism Group, RioZim Limited, ZB Financial Holdings Limited (ZBFHL), Zimplow and ZIMRE Holdings Limited.
Its holdings analysed in the 2015 edition of the Central African Stock Exchanges (CASE) handbook which looks at shareholding trends on the ZSE between 2013 and 2014, were not as substantial as those of acclaimed stock market enthusiasts such as British property tycoon, Nicholas van Hoogstraten. But they, all the same, represented a significant portfolio of shares ranging between 0,5 and 1,4 percent stakes in the invested companies.
In 15 counters, the Trust was among top 20 shareholders in 2014, and Guramatunhu, in his personal capacity, held shareholding in National Tyre Services and Truworths, the clothing chain.
The Trust held 2,5 million shares in ZBFHL at the end of 2014, representing 1,42 percent of the entire stock of the financial services group, up from 1,25 percent in 2013.
It held 6,9 million shares in ASL, the country’s largest tourism firm, equivalent to almost one percent shareholding, as well as 1,4 million shares in agro industrial dealer, Zimplow, which represented almost one percent shareholding.
In the commercial banking firm, Barclays, the Trust held 11,3 million shares during the review period, which represented 0,53 percent.
While the motivation to buy into stocks in a market that has experienced a bloodbath could be difficult to understand, analysts say the Guramatunhu Family Trust could be taking a long-term view, buying stocks when prices are low in order to reap real rewards during projected boom times in the years ahead.
But once an investor buys into a certain stock on the ZSE, it would also be difficult to sell because there are few takers.
“Guramatunhu made significant investments and his son is now managing the portfolio. He says he is trying to right size it. They may have their targets, but at the moment they are unlikely to exit because the prices are low. In some cases they bought shares when prices were high and these stocks have lost value,” said a stock market analyst this week.
Guramatunhu is not the only one taking a long term view.
Private equity firm, Brainworks Capital, has been on shopping sprees on the ZSE, while African Century, founded about six years ago by former Morgan Stanley International chairman and chief executive officer, Jonathan Chenevix-Trench, has also been pouncing on pretty much good deals.
Underwriters have also been snapping up significant shareholdings in cases where rights issues have been undersubscribed.
The ZSE lost nearly US$1,3 billion in market capitalisation last year alone.
The bourse has seen no respite since 2011, when a liquidity crisis rattled investment starved Zimbabwe, triggering an exodus of capital and company closures that have worsened unemployment.
It is smarting from the dismal listing of the ambitious Get Bucks three weeks ago, which probably killed any chances for further floatations and underlined a drastic scaling back of expectations.
And nearly three weeks since the Get Bucks debacle, the mood on the ZSE continues to swing between hope and uncertainty.
Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette